In what year was your first class with The Philly Tribe?
What was your relationship to dance/movement before taking class with The Philly Tribe?
I studied ballet, tap, jazz, musical theater, and modern from age 4 through college, and I taught dance for seven years from 2004 to 2011. I had begun a free-form dance practice in 2005, pretty much just by myself in my house, inspired by Shiva Rea's Trance Dance. I had never found a tribe of other people who wanted to do improvisational dance with me! In 2015, I visited Kripalu and took a Kripalu dance class. I was like, I have to do more of this! I went home and Googled “improvisational dance practices,” found 5Rhythms, and located The Philly Tribe.
What keeps you coming back to class regularly?
I am a kinesthetic learner and paid to be a creative person. I need to keep in touch with my body to be centered. For years I did this kind of practice by myself, but interacting with the tribe both helps me stay centered in my own body and teaches me about relationship to others. It's an amazing experience to interact on an intimate, creative, and emotional level with other people for several hours without talking. It has taught me a lot about the way I move in space, feel about other people, walk through the world, and understand my fears and desires as they relate to relationship with others.
In what ways does this dance practice influence or inspire your non-dancing life?
It has helped me open up to other people, and it has informed my other practices as a performing arts teacher and musician.
Tell us about a specific Philly Tribe class or workshop that you thought was especially powerful.
I have always hated Valentine's Day, but the Valentine's Day class in 2017 taught by Ray Diaz totally floored me. The whole class focused on honoring the feminine and how the masculine needs to give way to the feminine power right now, because there is an overabundance of male energy in the world. There was a ritual at the end where the men presented sewn hearts to the women and said, "I see you," as we stood in a circle. This was an amazing and validating experience that made me rethink the concept of Valentine's Day in the context of sacred ritual. Definitely the best Valentine's Day ever.
Is there anything you’d like your fellow classmates to know about your dance-floor personality, preferences, or quirks?
I've been a performing arts person my whole life, and outside of class I literally spend my entire day on a stage, spending my day teaching students on stage and in the evenings and weekends performing on stages as a musician. What's interesting for me about the dance tribe practice is that we are all together—there is no performer and no audience. For me, this is both enriching and challenging. I am much more accustomed to being on stage, with an invisible separation between me and the audience. Dancing with other people all together is kind of terrifying but also pushes me outside of my comfort zone in a way that helps me to feel community in a way I haven't always felt in my life.Internally, I am always navigating my relationship to the dance in several ways: consciously letting go of my years of dance training to get out of my head and "choreographing," letting go of the idea that I have to "perform well," but also respecting the fact that my body will naturally express the patterns I've learned for years as a dancer, and that I'm a super expressive person with lots of energy, and that's all okay. Are people looking at me? Yikes! What if I look weird? Are people not looking at me? Yikes! What if I'm not important? These are probably all insecurities that go along with being a performing arts person, or maybe just a person.Basically, there's a lot of stuff going on inside my head while I'm dancing! Sometimes I might be okay with dancing with others, and sometimes I might get totally freaked out by other people getting close to me or even making eye contact. I work on just being where I am, feeling my feelings, and trying to put it into the dance. Sometimes there is so much stuff going on inside of me that it's all I can handle, and I can't really interact with anyone else too much.
Tell us a little about your current life off the dance floor.
I'm a singer/songwriter and I teach performing and expressive arts at a private school (music, musical theater, creative writing, some dance). I love meeting new people, traveling, being outside, and community organizing. I live in a communal house in Wilmington, Delaware. Basically, I'm always on the go—I want to do everything, go everywhere, and meet everybody! I'm always looking for new experiences to inform my work as a performing artist and to meet people to do collaborative projects with.What I enjoy most is creating a space that allows other people to express their feelings through the context of performing and creative arts. I believe that communal dance, singing, drumming, and storytelling are an integral part of culture that helps people deal with the trauma of living, and we need to find as much space as possible to bring these practices back to our modern world.
Is there anything else you’d like to share—personal accomplishments, struggles, epiphanies, questions or stand-out life experiences that have helped shaped who you are today?
What has informed my life most has been my experience of childhood sexual abuse and learning to live with complex PTSD. I have made a choice to be public about my experience and healing process, because this has helped me to heal, and because I believe it helps others. I believe that it's possible to end sexual abuse through awareness, education, and counseling, but the silence and secrecy surrounding this issue allows it to run rampant and destroy the lives of many people from all different backgrounds. The process of therapy, expressing my experience through music and performance, and connecting with other survivors and supporters has totally changed my view of the world. Even though I would not wish this on anyone, and I would not have chosen it, my way of surviving through violent crime and its aftermath has been to speak with raw honesty, fight ferociously for my right to the expression of my own body and spirit, and to connect with others to help them do the same. It has absolutely shaped my path in this world, and I feel that my purpose in this life is to heal and share my healing process to inspire and guide others. Dance, music, theater, and writing have all literally saved my life, and I want to share these tools with others.